Harnessing electricity to treat brain tumors without chemo

Paging Dr. Reddy Kilowatt

Researchers are hot on the trail for effective glioblastoma treatments.

And no matter how fast they work, it can’t be too fast.

Glioblastoma is a very common, fast-growing brain cancer that responds poorly to surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. This is the cancer that took the life of Senator Edward Kennedy — just 15 months from diagnosis to death.

And now for the REALLY bad news…

Last year, a long-term study found that people who often use their cell phones for long conversations have a significantly higher risk of developing glioblastoma. So since it’s likely to affect more and more of us, finding effective treatments right NOW is critical — no matter how outlandish that treatment might seem.

And that includes taping electrodes to your scalp and running electricity through your brain nearly every hour of the day.

Believe it or not, mainstream researchers are actually not laughing at that idea.

Harnessing electric fields

You might ask yourself (like I did), “Why would mainstreamers even consider using a therapy that would have once been immediately dismissed as outrageous quackery?”

Because it appears to work.

This treatment is known as the NovoTTF-system. Electrodes attached to the scalp deliver low intensity alternating electric fields that obstruct glioblastoma tumor cell development.

Last year, a team of Swiss researchers presented a remarkable Novo-TTF study at the annual meeting of American Society of Clinical Oncology. And even that reliably skeptical gang of mainstreamers was impressed.

About 240 glioblastoma patients who had already undergone at least one therapy received NovoTTF or chemotherapy. Average overall survival time was 6.6 months and 6.0 months, respectively. The one-year survival rate was 23.6 percent and 20.8 percent, respectively.

Statistically, that’s a slight difference. But if you or your loved one is in the group that got 6 extra months, it would be the biggest difference in the world. And the fact that this therapy that sounds like something out of science fiction performed better than chemotherapy was VERY significant.

Plus, it performed slightly better without the devastating side effects of chemo. In fact, the only adverse side effect of NovoTTF was skin irritation under the electrodes. In the chemo group, subjects suffered all the standard side effects, including nausea, hair loss, lack of energy, and more.

But here’s the most amazing detail of this study…

Based on the impressive results, the FDA recently approved NovoTTF for treatment of glioblastoma.

I have to admit, I’m completely flabbergasted.

This is the kind of non-drug therapy that used to get alternative medicine clinics invaded by authorities and shut down.

Makes you wonder… Is a drug giant helping fund NovoTTF as a silent partner? Or is the FDA just scared to death that glioblastoma is going to explode over the next decade?

Hard to say. In any case, a follow up study is in the works. Glioblastoma patients will receive either chemo or a combination of chemo and NovoTTF.

Of course, the FDA couldn’t quite bring itself to admit that the chemo part might not be necessary so the very attractive benefit of nearly zero side effects will be out the window. But I assume the hope is that the combination might create a quantum leap in treatment, significantly improving chances of survival.

Sources:
“A prospective, randomized, open-label, phase III clinical trial of NovoTTF-100A versus best standard of care chemotherapy in patients with recurrent glioblastoma” Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Summer 2010, asco.org
“Electro vs. Chemo: For better or for worse?” Philipp Graetzel, DocCheck News, 2/4/11, dockcheck.com

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